Monday, October 3, 2011

In Which an Author Gives Me His Chair

No, this isn't some high-handed metaphor (not yet, at least). Tonight, I went to a reading by Michael Martone, author of a bunch of books, including these:

The reading was in Bracken Library at Ball State University, and I got there kind of late, so the room was already standing-room-only. Actually, that's unusual by itself. Seating generally isn't a problem at events like this. Since all of the seats were filled, I took a spot against the wall, planning to stand and watch the reading from there. I was pretty close to the front and had a good view of the podium--not a bad vantage point at all. 

After I had been standing there for a few minutes, this man--
This is Michael Martone, if you didn't know.

--stood up and told me I could have his seat. Now, I had already sat in on a class Martone visited earlier in the day, so I knew what he looked like. Still, it took a second for me to register what was happening: The most important guy in the room--literally the reason everyone was there--was offering me his chair. It's not like he was getting up to read right at that moment, either. He sat down on the floor for around 10 minutes before it was time for him to read. 

I half expected him to take off his bow tie (yes, he was wearing a genuine bow tie, which are cool, while we're on the subject) and start washing everyone's feet with it. You have to admit, the guy looks at least a little bit like middle-aged Jesus. 

Since I'm a visual learner, I often don't get a lot out of readings, but Martone's personality and repartee made him memorable, even if I don't remember all of his stories (I use that term loosely) all that well. It didn't hurt that he's an Indiana writer and the crowd was primarily made up of Hoosiers, either. 

And I got a story out of it myself, too.